The global crisis is taking its toll on Indonesia’s richest. A political analyst says that Aburizal Bakrie, the Coordinating Minister of Welfare-cum-the richest man in Indonesia according to Forbes Asia Magazine, is losing his political clout as stocks across his business empire’s plummet.
“Bakrie has lost his tenure as a major political heavyweight,” political analyst Dewi Fortuna Anwar told AFP.
Yudhoyono probably still feels indebted to Bakrie for bankrolling his 2004 presidential campaign, but the swaggering tycoon’s influence ultimately relies on how much money he can shell out to his political allies, Anwar said.
“He’s now a minister, but if by (the general elections of) 2009 his financial issues can’t be overcome… he may be seen as a political liability,” he said.
To Forbes.com Bakrie said that he would not be seeking a government post if the Yudhoyono administration is re-elected next April for a second five-year term.
“I am retiring from the cabinet,” Bakrie told Forbes.com.
Does that mean President Yudhoyono and his coalition partner Golkar will lose a formidable support for the 2009 election?
I wonder if he would even have the means to back up a campaign, what with the financial fiasco Bakrie & Brothers are facing.
Forbes Asia magazine estimated Bakrie’s family fortune at US$5.4 billion. But, the global crisis has caused Bakrie Brothers’s profits to plummet, with creditor started selling shares offered as collateral by holding company Bakrie & Brothers.
It is in negotioan with Northstar Pacific Partners, a local arm of US buyout firm Texas Pacific Group to sell 35 percent share in coal giant Bumi Resources, to maintain their $1.2 billion debt.
Meanwhile, Bumi’s shares itself has plunged to more than 50 percent after a month trading suspension has been lifted in early November.
The Jakarta Post reported that the trading suspension in Bumi shares has been the subject of a political struggle between Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is heavily indebted to the Bakries for financing his presidential campaign in 2004.
Mulyani has even reportedly threatened to resign if Yudhoyono keeps protecting the Bakries.
For me, Bakrie’s decision to resign from politics is very welcomed. For one, it would clear the government from unwanted conflict of interest in the future. That is, if Yudhoyono’s elected again.